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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69


page 10


but not so easy for a man without official knowledge and experience to propound a practicable scheme; but I may venture to indicate how, in my opinion, expenditure could be considerably reduced without detriment to the public service. It will be generally admitted, I think, that we are indebted to the huge borrowing and public works policy for a costly departmental system and the general extravagance in public expenditure. It should be our endeavour to apply the pruning knife wherever possible, and to give up luxuries that are beyond our means and inconsistant with our position. Being of opinion that large sums of money have been expended unproductively and on objects unwarranted by the circumstances of the colony, in response to the demands of members whose support was necessary for the retention of the Government of the day in office, and by the system known as "logrolling." I should put an end to that state of things by abolishing the present system of party government, and thus at the same time admitting of every question being determined on its merits, and of members voting according to their judgment, instead of, as at present, in many cases at the call of the party whips. The Government should be appointed for a fixed term, and should only be removed on a vote of want of confidence in their capacity for administration, and should not, as now, have to retire from office on rejection of policy measures. We should thus be spared many protracted and costly debates and obstructions to the free course of business which take place with a view to harassing the Government of the day, and securing the sweets of office to those opposed to them. The cost of legislation can be largely reduced by shortening the duration of the sessions, and this desirable reform can be achieved by abandoning the system of party government and abolishing the system of fully reporting members' speeches, and also by a reform in parliamentary procedure in the direction of overcoming obstruction and putting a stop to unreasonably protracted discussions. I believe that several thousands a year can be thus saved without the slightest disadvantage. Members of the House can tell us, as many of them have told me, that a very small percentage of the speeches has any influence on members. The interchange of opinions in the lobbies has far more effect upon the legislation than the long-winded speeches have. They will also tell us, at least those of them who are honest will, that the most useful and influential members are not those given to speech making, but those who are respected for their earnestness of purpose, good sense, and honesty. If a return were tabled showing what party government had cost the country, in the way of unnecessary expenditure, during the past 20 years it would prove a very startling piece of information, and serve as an overwhelming argument against the system.